Since I am a fan of young adult fiction as well as horror, “Trollhunters” by Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus sounded like a must-read book for me. I was hoping to find a solid story with a horror edge to it when I started the novel.
San Bernadino experienced a great tragedy in the 1960’s when over 200 children went missing with no explanation ever being discovered. The series of disappearances became known as The Milk Carton Epidemic. The city put in measures to try to bring the disappearances to and end even though they could not figure out what was causing it. Jim Sturges knew what was happening to the children. When he broke the curfew with his brother on his brother’s birthday, Jack Sturges became one of the missing children and only Jim had witnesses the horrific beast, the monster, who stole his brother from him.
Years later, Jim Sturges Jr. has learned to live with his father’s paranoia even though it is unexplained and it drove his mother away. He just believes that his father is a little crazy but he loves him anyway. This all changes one night when he is drug into a hole under his bed and enters the world of trolls. Then his Uncle Jack suddenly shows up without having aged over the years and lets Jim Jr. know that the family is from a line of Troll hunters and it is up to Jim to save the world from an invasion. Instead of getting ready for the local festival and chasing the girl of his dreams, Jim Jr. suddenly finds himself training for the fight that will determine the fate of the world as the troll army draws nearer.
“Trollhunters” has a fairly standard setup so it is not difficult to fall into the story. An unknown family legacy coming to light just in time to save the world is nothing new and there is very little twist to that theme here. It is straightforward with many of the same tropes from similar fiction. The trolls are all cast in a comical light rather than a frightening one and this makes it a little difficult to take the story seriously at all. There is meant to be a comic element to the novel but it undercuts any sense of looming threat that could have been built up. Put this alongside a somewhat tiresome amount of jokes about bodily functions and “Trollhunters” comes off not so much as a young adult novel as an immature one.
Having enjoyed Guillermo del Toro’s movies but not having read any of his books, I was hoping that “Trollhunters” would captivate me in the same fashion that his movies do. Unfortunately, this was not the case. I could not get into the story and could not relate to either the characters or the story. While there is a sense of the absurd to the story as it goes over-the-top at times, it just does not work as the story seems indecisive as to whether it would be serious or ludicrous. The trolls seem to be drawn from a bad cartoon so that the scenes that are supposed to be scary just seem laughable. I was disappointed by the novel as I had been looking forward to reading it but just could not into it at all. The book is the first novel in a planned series but I do not think that I will read the next book.
I would like to thank Hyperion and NetGalley for this review copy. “Trollhunters” is available now.